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March 22, 2013

Your inbound marketing can be copied. Unless you understand your Company DNA

by Tom De Baere
inbound marketing hubspot - company dna

Image source: @bredanieuwsnl

Ever since I became ravingly enthusiastic and truly convinced that traditional marketing is dying, and replaced by a new type of marketing, I have been following Hubspot.

This company acts on this new type of marketing.

This new type of marketing throws away manipulation, spin-wizzards, and interruption in its marketing strategy. This new type of marketing is about authenticity, being human and open, and being relevant to your audience. They embrace and understand the digital and social world that companies and people live in today.

Although the company was founded only a few years ago, they are already seen as one of the thought leaders in this area of new marketing. Their marketing is impressive, educating a whole new fleet of young, and not so young anymore, marketers of today.

They preach inbound marketing, or content marketing if you will.

“You must do inbound marketing to survive”

More and more marketers I meet start seeing this as the answer to their problems. They see it as a solution to problems like:

  • advertising is not working anymore, or not as it used to do.
  • buyers become very informed and lead the buying process.
  • search engines and social media are changing the way companies buy.

And Hubspot keeps on pushing out and impressive array of content, which keeps building on these thoughts:


This inbound model is about attracting and converting buyers further into the buying cycle. And to be honest, the model really makes sense. I myself am a big believer and defender of this type of marketing. And I really admire Hubspot for what they are doing, and what they mean to B2B companies. Every B2B marketer should check them out.

In essence, you are building content that creates trust from your buyers. Trust that cannot be overthrown by competitors.

But what happens if all B2B companies start following this model?

Imagine that all companies go through this learning cycle, and become great in building content, spreading content digitally, and engage with their audience on social media.

  • They all listen to their buyers’ needs.
  • They all answer the content needs of their buyers along the customer life-cycle.
  • They all have “conversations”. 
  • They all build trust through “giving”.

What happens then?

I can imagine the buying process of buyers becomes more easy, because they have much more information to guide them in their purchases. But on the other hand, having this huge amount of content could also very well cause more doubt and complexity to the process.

When you have all this “epic” content out in the field, what will differentiate competing vendors?

  • building even more incremental epic content ?
  • building even more incremental “engaging conversations”?
  • building incremental ‘trust’?

That’s obviously not sustainable. And above all, it doesn’t make you different.

There’s something more important

Your company DNA 

I believe the philosophy behind content marketing is a good thing.

But what counts much more is that doing B2B is a people’s business. People buy from people, which is a crucial element in each B2B business model. And people have a certain way of talking, acting, and believing. They are the physical representation of the uniqueness of your company.

I call that “company DNA”.

It’s my believe that it is crucial to have this company ‘DNA’ embedded in every interaction with prospects and customers. This DNA is about how your customers experiences your company. Through it’s people, it’s products and it’s experiences as a whole.

This unique DNA cannot be copied by your competition. Your company DNA was created when your company was founded. No matter how many mergers or acquisitions you had, the DNA of your founders is in the blood of your company. Your founders hire people with the same DNA as themselves. And once new people are submerged in the DNA pool of your company, they on their turn add to the DNA of your company.

Company DNA is more than your brand.

It’s what your employees really are. It’s what they believe. It’s what they want to be. It’s not what your marketing tries to reflect.

And that’s what differentiates you as a company. And that’s what you need to be leveraging as a unique element in what your company has to offer.

The good folks at Hubspot have that unique DNA embedded in their marketing. And it’s working. And you can’t copy it. They are unique. And this is what makes them special, different, and what makes them survive. No doubt.

Applying your company DNA in your marketing

First thing to do is find out what your DNA is. Write it down, brainstorm it, discuss it, do whatever you need to do to get it on paper.

As it is already in the blood & hearts of your employees, you’ll need to make them aware how it looks like. Communicate it, show examples of what it looks like, formalize it into your HR processes, and keep on repeating it through your internal communication.

Once they see how their DNA is structured, they’ll be able to replicate it. They can replicate it by having structured and unstructured triggers to get the DNA replicated into your products, your marketing and your services.

Promote DNA replication throughout your company, by thinking how you can get it into your core processes:

  • innovation domains are selected based on your uniqueness.
  • development or creation is guided by the basic principles of what you believe as a company
  • production, in all it’s aspects, is executed, managed and controlled by  respecting who you are as a company
  • internal communication is done from the inside to the outside, revealing people’s DNA in an authentic way
  • marketing is not faked. It a reflection of who you really are. You don’t need to make it better than it is. It’s good as it is. Because it’s you. And because it differentiates you.
  • sales people are selected, trained and managed based on how well they align with your company DNA
  • customer services people, processes and behavior are developed and maintained, by having specific processes that make sure your DNA is maintained.
  • leadership is developed and motivated in line with your company DNA.

Once you have it embedded throughout your company, it will also be reflected in your content.


This is what marketers should be doing.

This is bigger than content marketing.

Stop focusing so much on content marketing.

Start acting upon your company DNA.


Thank your for reading this far.

So, what do you think is more important than inbound marketing or content marketing?


Warm regards,

Tom De Baere